13 manipulative behaviors you should never tolerate in a relationship

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In a perfect world, there would be no psychopaths, murderers, or people trying to manipulate you for their own selfish reasons. 

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, and there are many things we need to look out for. 

One of them is not letting our partner manipulate us. I know it’s a sad state of things that some people have to deal with this stuff, but that’s why we’re here to help.

So, without delay, here are the manipulative behaviors you should never tolerate in a relationship.

1) Trying to control every aspect of your life

If there’s anything that screams manipulation, it’s trying to control every aspect of your partner’s life.

If you’re in a relationship where this is the reality, you seriously need to reconsider what you have gotten yourself into. 

If your partner insists on controlling what you wear, who you talk to, and even your daily schedule, that means you’re merely a puppet to them. You’re basically living under a microscope with little room for personal freedom.

Getting out of such a relationship must be hard, and fixing it and restoring the balance is even harder. 

If the controlling behavior becomes abusive or if you fear for your safety, prioritize your well-being. 

Reach out to a domestic violence hotline or seek help from local resources. Your safety is the top priority.

2) Making you feel bad to get what they want

Guilt tripping is another well-known and popular tool of manipulators. They love using it every chance they get. 

Picture this: you have plans with friends, but your partner suddenly feels unwell and lays on a guilt trip about how you’re leaving them alone. 

They’re obviously emotionally manipulating you to make you feel bad for doing something you had planned.

They don’t want you to go and will perform many nasty little tricks like this one, so you decide to stay at home with them.

Sound familiar? 

But it gets worse. 

3) Using fear to manipulate your decisions

Fear is a great motivator, and manipulators know it. That’s why they constantly threaten you to get things their way.

For instance, your partner threatens to leave or end the relationship every time there’s a disagreement. 

It’s emotional blackmail, forcing you to comply with their wishes out of fear of losing them. If you notice this happening more and more, know that they’ll never stop with this behavior. 

You can choose to ignore or confront them. 

4) Cutting you off from friends and family

Isolating you is another thing they love doing. They discourage you from spending time with friends or family, creating a sense of dependency. 

They’re trying to build a fortress around the relationship, leaving you with limited connections outside of it.

That way, they get to control you, and you have no one to confide in or to talk to, especially about their behavior. 

In the process, they make your family and friends look really bad and paint themselves as the only person you deserve and really need. 

It’s easy not to see it coming, but know that it’s never too late to reach out to your loved ones, even if you have already burned down the bridges. 

5) Ignoring you instead of communicating

Ignoring your partner is never a good thing to do. Yet, manipulators won’t shy away from it because it’s another form of control over you. 

That’s why, instead of talking through issues, they might give you the cold shoulder for days. 

It’s like you’re in a one-sided freeze tag, where they’re not willing to communicate, leaving you feeling isolated and frustrated.

Have an honest and calm conversation with your partner about their behavior. Use “I” statements to express how their actions make you feel rather than placing blame. 

For example, say, “I feel frustrated when…” instead of “You always…”

6) Gaslighting

Unfortunately, gaslighting has become a popular term in the last couple of decades, even though it’s been around for a much longer time. 

And rightly so. Manipulators love gaslighting others.

Imagine you’re sure about something, but your partner insists you’re wrong and even makes you doubt your own memory or perception. 

For instance, you remember making plans to meet, but they swear it never happened, causing you to question your sanity.

If it keeps happening, start writing everything down so you can confront them about their behavior. 

Even if you fail, and they don’t admit they were doing it, you’ll know for sure you aren’t going nuts.

7) Always pointing the finger at you instead of taking responsibility

You express concerns, but your partner turns it around, blaming you for everything. It’s like playing a game of emotional hot potato, where they never take responsibility and always pass the blame onto you.

This is manipulation 101, where it’s never their fault. They might even believe it themselves. 

Still, that doesn’t mean it’s right. Taking responsibility is what grown-ups do. 

Because they can’t or won’t admit their mistakes, they’ll often portray themselves as victims. 

8) Constantly portraying themselves as the ones suffering

No matter the situation, your partner somehow always ends up being the victim. They twist events to make you feel guilty, like you’re the one who’s constantly causing them distress.

If your partner is one of these people, there’s really no talking sense into them. They just love drama, and they looove playing the victim. 

They know it’s a great way to get everything they want. I mean, no one wants to blame the victim for something, right?

9) Attaching strings

Love should be unconditional, but imagine your partner only shows affection or support when you meet certain conditions or expectations. 

It’s like love that comes with a rulebook instead of being freely given.

For instance, they might shower you with love when you agree with them but withdraw affection when you express different opinions.

Or your partner supports your goals or ambitions only if they align with their vision or values. 

If your choices don’t meet their approval, they withhold support, making it clear that their encouragement depends on meeting their standards.

10) Using your emotions against you to get what they want

Manipulators also use your emotions against you. For example, if you express your needs, they threaten to harm themselves to manipulate you into doing what they want.

It’s a nefarious way to always get what they want. Here’s another example:

Your partner expresses deep disappointment, saying things like, “I thought you cared about us. I never expected you to prioritize your career over our relationship.” 

With this approach, they look to manipulate your emotions by playing on your fear of disappointing or hurting them.

When someone uses your emotions against you, they’re playing with your feelings like a tool to get what they want.

It puts them in control by making you feel guilty, fearful, or pressured. This can mess with your ability to make choices that are good for you. 

To deal with this, you must spot these tricks, set clear boundaries, and promote open communication.

11) Putting you down instead of being supportive

Picture this: instead of offering helpful advice, your partner’s go-to move is to put you down. 

It feels like living in a world where everything you do is criticized, leaving you questioning your own value. 

Instead of uplifting support, it’s a constant stream of negativity that can really take a toll on your self-esteem.

Take a moment to reflect on your feelings and recognize the impact of their words on your self-esteem. Understanding your emotions is the first step to addressing the situation.

Talk to friends, family, or a therapist about your experiences. Having a support system can give you valuable perspectives and emotional support as you navigate through this challenging situation.

12) Using affection as a tool for control

Manipulators also use affection as a reward system. If you do what they want, they shower you with affection; if not, they withdraw it. 

But affection isn’t just physical; it can also involve verbal expressions. Your partner may withhold compliments, kind words, or affirmations unless you stick to their expectations or behavior standards.

They might only open up emotionally or share their feelings when they believe it serves their agenda.

Recognizing these patterns is crucial for maintaining a healthy and balanced relationship.

13) Keeping you on your toes to maintain control

And lastly, some manipulative partners set arbitrary rules that keep shifting. That way, you’re trying to navigate a maze blindfolded, never knowing what’s expected of you from one moment to the next.

One day, they insist on constant communication and the next, they become distant, leaving you uncertain about how to behave.

Also, a small disagreement might be met with extreme anger one day and complete indifference the next, keeping you on edge.

That means that what was acceptable yesterday suddenly becomes a point of conflict today, making it challenging for you to meet their shifting criteria.

Final thoughts

You deserve to be in a relationship where you feel respected, valued, and free to be yourself. 

If your partner is unwilling to change or if the situation becomes unsafe, prioritize your safety above all else.

Adrian Volenik

Adrian has years of experience in the field of personal development and building wealth. Both physical and spiritual. He has a deep understanding of the human mind and a passion for helping people enhance their lives. Adrian loves to share practical tips and insights that can help readers achieve their personal and professional goals. He has lived in several European countries and has now settled in Portugal with his family. When he’s not writing, he enjoys going to the beach, hiking, drinking sangria, and spending time with his wife and son.

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